Floro Balce was reared in a poor but happy household, where his parents taught their children such values as honesty, simplicity, hard work and idealism. His father was a docket clerk in a local court.
Floro, called Poloy, excelled in academics, was an active scout member, and competed in declamation and oratorical contests. In 1972, when he was his third year high school, he was given an award as “model student for his exemplary character, creative abilities and special talents, scholastic standing, excellent health and cheerful disposition” from the Children’s Museum and Library Inc.
He was in the honor rolls from elementary to college. He graduated valedictorian in grade school and salutatorian in high school. He won a government scholarship in college. He was determined to be a good electrical engineer and studied very hard in the university.
He was active in other fields. He joined the UP Students Catholic Action and chaired its sociocultural committee. He was core group member from 1973 to 1975 of the Molave Kurahaw, an organization of Bicolano students at UP’s Molave Residence Hall. He was charter member of UP Ibalon, an organization of Bicol students in UP. His friends said he worked in so many areas it seemed he was campaigning early to become president of the Philippines in the future.
President Ferdinand Marcos had just installed martial law when Poloy came to UP, and it hit him as it had not when he was in Bicol. Friends remembered him asking: “Why is there martial law in the Philippines? Why are there rebels? Why are there poor people, and why are there so many of them compared to rich people? What can I M? Where am I going?”
Floro opened friendships with activists. Between studying his lessons and preparing for exams, he would be found helping write placards and streamers for rallies. But he refused to join activist organizations for some time, believing he was more effective if he did not belong to any organization.
In 1975, he finally joined the Kabataang Makabayan, then already a banned organization. Floro left UP in 1978 and went home to Camarines Sur, where he found fulfillment as a teacher of farmers. He dreamed of someday building a school for the children of the hills. “If I could teach little children the values of kindness and nationalism, that would be pure happiness,” he wrote a friend.
In explaining this difficult decision to leave for Bicol, he once wrote: “I have come to terms with my life. My questions about the resistance movement have been sufficiently answered. I know what I want to be with the masses.”
But Poloy only had a very short while in Bicol. Soldiers were pouring into his area, creating a level of militarization rarely ever seen in those places. Floro’s fledgling group had to go farther and farther away, but the soldiers continued their pursuit. Floro and his team were pushed into a fighting it out. Floro was hurt in the first volley, but he survived long enough to be taken to an army camp in Tigaon, Camarines Sur. He died there several hours later, on the very day he turned 23.
* Born 30 July 1955 in Daet, Camarines Norte
* Died 30 July 1978 in Tigaon, Camarines Norte
* Parents : Monico Balce and Vicenta Elep
* Education : Elementary Abaño Pilot Elementary School, Daet, 1969, valedictorian
High School Camarines Norte High School, 1973, Salutatorian
College University of the Philippines Diliman, BS Electrical Engineering